Metaldays - 2014

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

The French (in lack of good musical description, make up your own) band Alcest was what began our musical journey at Metaldays 2014.

“Hello Metaldays, we are Alcest from France.”
- Stéphane ‘Neige’ Paut (vocals/guitar)

In itself Alcest was a band of few words, but many words have been said about them, and since they have been mostly positive we figured that giving this, to us, new band a chance was the way to go. Since the weather had cleared up for the first time of the day only minutes before the show, there really wasn’t any excuse about not going worth exploring.
Now, I had a pre-conception about what the band was about based on the aforementioned mentions, and the idea that was tranquil and atmospheric music wasn’t far off at all. I will not go into the tricky path of handing you a setlist – my knowledge of the band is much too limited for that, and the few songs Neige did introduce all seemed to have French titles, and since my knowledge of French extends to an awe-worthy two or three words I don’t feel comfortable in guessing what he was talking about.
The sound of the songs though, which was quite easy to pick up on as they were blessed with a good mix (bass was a little high, and the extra audio was a bit low) fit precisely with my idea of the band – it was slow, atmospheric and very easy on the ears. A single song had some harshly shouted vocals in them, but the music was still oh so slow and clean, so not even that managed to rough any feathers.

I might have been more or less alone in not understanding French, because when Neige changed over to French instead of English between songs, the shouted response from the crowd was at once much louder and more intense – possibly they had a lot of French fans present?
Either way, the mid-sized crowd didn’t do much else than shout out appreciatively once in a while, but on the other hand, neither music nor performance invited for a more rowdy behaviour than that. It felt like a very positive atmosphere though, and although they weren’t the most active band in the world, the members of Alcest, especially Neige, smiled a lot as they made their way through their set. As did the crowd.

Alcest provided a nice way to ease into the festival, but with the lack of visual aids (almost no performance, no backdrop, almost no drums even!) and a musical direction that plodded away at a glacial tempo, watching grass grow might just have been a more intense experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t and won’t point a finger to anything done wrong by the band – to my best guess this is exactly what they were going for, and if it was they nailed it – but my personal preference at this time would have been something more tempo-filled and upbeat. In shorter words – it was good, but not what I was looking for at the time.

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